Columns

2008.11.05 A nearly political-free column for your approval

on . Posted in Nowhere Road

By RICH FOLEY

While you’re wondering what the results of yesterday’s election will mean for us all, here are a few more pieces of odd trivia I’ve stumbled across recently....

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, over 511,000 people in the United States receive medical treatment for ladder-related injuries each year.

In November, 1926, the ship City of Bangor encountered a powerful ice and snow storm near Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula. The ship, carrying 220 new automobiles, mostly Chryslers, was forced aground off Keweenaw Point. Eighteen cars had already been blown off the ship’s decks into Lake Superior, never to be recovered.

The remaining vehicles, cut free from the ice over the next month or so, were taken to be stored in Copper Harbor. The following March, U.S. 41 was plowed for the first time ever (it took two weeks to clear the road from Copper Harbor to Phoenix, a distance of less than 20 miles) and a parade of the surviving Chryslers began their trip back to Detroit for repairs.

The last privately owned motor vehicle on Mackinac Island was a 1928 Buick. Its owner fought efforts of locals to ban it for several years, finally losing in court and ordered to stop driving it in 1935. He stored it on blocks in his garage for 40 years, before eventually selling it in 1975. It was shipped by barge to St. Ignace.

Also in 1975, a bullet-proof limousine was transported to the island under cover of darkness for the possible use of President Gerald Ford. Secret Service agents demanded that a car be available before the President could visit. Ford used the traditional horse-drawn method of transportation during his stay, and the limo was removed after his departure, again after dark, with few island residents ever aware of the presence of a dreaded motorcar.

Someone must have been in big trouble after over a million copies of Robbie William’s CD “Rudebox” were made but went unsold. I’ll admit it, I never heard of Mr. Williams in the first place, but how can you manufacture over a million more albums than you can sell, no matter who the artist is? That’s just market research at its worst.

I’m even more puzzled by the solution. The unsold CDs are being shipped to China, where they supposedly will be used to pave roads. How exactly they plan to do that may be a subject for a later column.

The first Chevrolet Corvette rolled off the assembly line on June 30, 1953. Or most likely was pushed off, as it refused to start.

The British ship Lusitania, sunk by Germany at the start of World War I, still lies beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Except, that is, for one of its propellers, which was salvaged and made into 3,500 sets of golf clubs.

Seven years after the World Trade Center attacks, the post office next to the attack site still receives about 300 letters a day addressed to offices in one of the towers.

With the survival of the Chrysler Corporation in doubt and the current popularity of alternative fuel vehicles in the marketplace, have they considered a return of the 1964 Chrysler Turbine car? Fifty cars were made at the time for testing purposes, but the car was never put into production. Designed to run on diesel, it turned out that any flammable liquid would power the car without adjustments or problems.

Fuels used at one time or another in the test cars included unleaded gasoline, kerosene, jet fuel, peanut oil, home heating oil, perfume and tequila. 

John Reagan, a former U. S. congressman, was named Postmaster General of the Confederate States of America by Confederate President Jefferson Davis in 1861. Despite functioning in wartime conditions that crippled delivery service, Reagan still managed to eliminate the monetary deficit that existed in Southern postal operations.

Arrested at the end of the war, Reagan was later pardoned and, incredibly, re-elected to the U. S. Congress. There, his postal expertise was recognized when he was named as chairman of the Committee on Post Offices and Post Roads.

Maybe Reagan should have been put in charge of the Pony Express. With rates as high as $5 for a half-ounce letter when normal U. S. postage was no more than a dime, the Express still lost money and lasted only 18 months.

Famous people who used to work for the Postal Service include Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Rock Hudson and William Faulkner. But, strangely,  no mention of Newman or Cliff Claven.

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